November 29, 2022
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Circle K Stores Inc. has entered into a nationwide agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to resolve disability, pregnancy and retaliation discrimination charges, the federal agency announced today.
This resolution resolves multiple charges of discrimination filed against Circle K and related entities, ending an investigation in which the EEOC determined it had reasonable cause to believe Circle K denied reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees and those with disabilities, subjecting them to actions such as involuntary unpaid leave, retaliation, requiring employees be 100% healed to return to work, or terminations.
These actions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Circle K will pay $8 million to resolve this matter, which includes a class fund to compensate aggrieved individuals and will cover impacted individuals employed at Circle K between July 10, 2009, to September 26, 2022.
In addition, the company has agreed to update its policies, as needed; appoint a coordinator to provide oversight on pregnancy-related disability policies, requests for reasonable accommodations, and maintenance of records; conduct climate surveys and exit interviews with specific attention to their accommodation process; conduct anti-discrimination training to all employees, including management; and require performance evaluation of managers include consideration of compliance with EEO laws. This settlement is in effect for four years.
The pre-litigation agreement was voluntarily entered into by Circle K and obtained through the EEOC’s conciliation process.
“We are pleased Circle K worked cooperatively with the EEOC to reach this conciliation agreement and, through our joint efforts, we have been able to bring about real change at Circle K without resorting to litigation,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows.
“Employers must ensure that all individuals with disabilities or those who are pregnant are given an opportunity to request an accommodation and are granted accommodations when required by law,” said Melinda Caraballo, acting district director of the EEOC Phoenix District Office. “These accommodations can include actions such as additional leave beyond FMLA leave, modified work schedules, modified duties, modified policies, equipment, and reassignment, as a last resort.”
“When employers have rigid maximum leave policies with no flexibility to give additional leave for a disability or pregnancy-related reason, they are in serious danger of running afoul of the law,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “Employers who don’t give current employees a reassignment to an open position after the employer decides there is no reasonable accommodation available in the current position are also in danger of violating the law.”
“The EEOC investigation stemmed from discrimination charges filed between 2010 and 2015. Circle K expanded our operations and integrated thousands of stores and tens of thousands of employees during this period,” said Circle K’s Vice President of Human Resources, Mark Novak. “Throughout the past decade, we have made a focused effort on centralizing and strengthening our ADA compliance efforts.”
If you are a current or former employee of Circle K who sought a reasonable accommodation such as leave for a disability and/or pregnancy, and were terminated at some period between July 10, 2009, and September 26, 2022, please contact the EEOC v Circle K Settlement Administrator, JND Legal Administration, by mail at PO Box 91243, Seattle, WA 98111, by phone toll-free number at 1-844-633-0691, or by email at info@EEOC-ADA-PDA-Settlement.com. Additional information is available on the settlement website at eeoc-ada-pda-settlement.com where individuals can file a claim. You could be eligible for compensation.
The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and most of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.